The Padres Scholars Class of 2005 enjoyed a unique "Shadow Day" at Petco Park recently, touring the downtown ballpark, hearing from front office personnel, and culminating with lunch in the visitors' clubhouse with a handful of Padres players.
The Padres Scholars program, now 11 years old, awards college scholarships to 30 middle school AVID students in San Diego County each year. Each Scholar receives $5,000 (plus accrued interest), to be used for college tuition and books. AVID, the nationally recognized college-prep program for underrepresented students, provides the academic support for the Padres Scholars program.
"The Padres Scholarship program gives me a chance to go to college. It also helps me to prepare for college requirements with advanced classes and tutorial sessions. I am very excited to be a part of this program," said De Portola Middle School student Marco Vera.
The Scholars' behind-the-scenes tour included stops in private restaurants, the media dining room, and press box. It ended with a buffet lunch in the visitor's locker room, with Padres players Josh Barfield, Tim Stauffer, Clay Hensley, Adrian Gonzalez, and Dewon Brazelton dining alongside the 8th graders. Players signed autographs, discussed college plans with students, and encouraged them to continue their hard work in the classroom.
The AVID Program strongly encourages students to attend college, and several Scholars expressed interests in attending specific universities, including the University of Southern California, Duke and UCSD.
"We are very proud of the Padres Scholars program," said Padres Chief Executive Officer Sandy Alderson. "The program is important to us as an organization, but it is also meaningful to our players, who were the original impetus for the program. It is tremendously gratifying to see the Scholars develop and mature into well-educated, responsible adults."
"The San Diego Padres are really 'Making College Dreams A Reality' for so many students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to go to college," said Joyce Suber, AVID Director, invoking the AVID motto. "To see the commitment of this team, with owners, managers and players passionately giving their financial resources and time towards helping children in the AVID program is sheer delight."
The Padres Scholars program is funded through the Padres Foundation. Padres players contribute personal funds each year which the Padres ownership matches dollar-for-dollar. A committee comprised of members of the San Diego County Office of Education, AVID and the Padres Foundation selects the Padres Scholars. The task force takes grades, application quality, and the students' social and academic achievements into consideration.
Eligibility requirements for Padres Scholars scholarships are competitive. Each student must be enrolled in a public San Diego County middle school. In addition, they must be enrolled in a seventh grade AVID program, be legal resident, and show strong character and academic achievement throughout the course of the program.